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Nov 11, 2012 - 08:08 AM
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2012 NHRA: Consistent Gray To Start From The Top Half In The Big O Tires Dodge
Posted by: newsla on Nov 11, 2012 - 08:06 AM
2012 NHRA: Consistent Gray To Start From The Top Half In The Big O Tires Dodge At Season-Closer

Funny Car driver Johnny Gray is looking forward to Sunday, the final day of the 2012 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour, and the final opportunity to put the icing on the cake of what has been a truly banner year that has so far included two wins in four final rounds and a berth in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.


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Gray, driving the Service Central Racing/Big O Tires Dodge Charger R/T out of the Don Schumacher Racing stable of nitro breathing machines, will start from the No. 8 position at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona opposite No. 9 qualifier Robert Hight. The Artesia, N.M.-based driver cleared the finish line in 4.046-second at 311.20 mph in his final qualifying pass.

"This Service Central team was trying to make another great run with the Big O Tires Dodge, but we weren't trying to be spectacular," said crew chief Rob Wendland. "We know that being consistent and going down the track is what sets you up to win races on raceday."

Indeed, the Big O Tires/Service Central car showed a streak of consistency throughout qualifying with back-to-back runs in the 4.06 range to start the weekend and then the 4.04 to gain a little ground and close out qualifying in the top half of the field for the 15th time this season. Only eight times this year has the Service Central car been in the bottom half heading into raceday, and Gray has been the No. 1 qualifier twice – at national events in Phoenix and Norwalk.

The track cooled quite a bit for the final session of qualifying, and there were 4.0 runs there for the taking as DSR teammate Ron Capps exhibited by laying down a 4.007 to jump up from the very bottom of the field to the No. 1 spot.

"We absolutely wanted to go faster than that on that last run, but we ended up on the good side of things," said Gray, who entered the event fourth in the Full Throttle Series standings and is looking to hold onto the position for what is already assured to be a career-best finish for the veteran driver with experience in multiple categories across both the sportsman and professional ranks.

"The Big O Tires/Service Central car was on a really good run, but then it had a problem with a valve spring, dropped a cylinder at about three-seconds into the run, [and I] drove it another second after that, so we're feeling really lucky that it didn't blow up.

"We're going into tomorrow with three good runs in the bank, a little bit of luck already on our side, and the opportunity to finish this year on a positive note. We'll be ready."

Johnny Gray, Big O Tires/Service Central Racing Dodge Charger R/T
Final qualifying position: No. 8
First round opponent: No. 9 qualifier Robert Hight

Qualifying Results
Session one: 4.065-second at 312.57 mph
Session two: 4.060, 313.22
Session three: 8.640, 71.08
Session four: 4.046, 311.20

NHRA FULL THROTTLE EVENT: Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.
Sunday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.

Sunday: 6 p.m. EST qualifying; 7 p.m. EST, eliminations

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